Bats hanging from the limbs of the trees behind residents of Strathpine Village
By Chris McMahon
A myriad of rules and regulations have forced residents in Strathpine to continue living with 4500 bats sitting at their backdoors.
Moreton Bay Regional Council have been left powerless to move the bats on from Pine Rivers Park with current legislation forbidding them to take action until the bat birthing season ends in early 2014.
“Council officers have been advised by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) that under current state and federal legislation significant mitigation works in the vicinity of flying fox colonies are not permitted until the conclusion of the flying fox birthing season in early 2014,” a council spokesperson said.
At the end of the birthing season the council is then required to apply for a Damage Mitigation Permit (DMP) through the EHP, which can take time and resources that may see the bats in the area even longer.
The video below shows how loud the bats are and their flight path at sunset. Most of the bats fly directly back over the park, although at least a quarter of the bats can be seen flying over the filming position, which was along the fence line of Strathpine Village.
With new state legislation in the works, council may be given more powers to move the bats on at their discretion, although the Campbell Newman run government have been fairly quiet on the protected species.
State Liberal National Member for Pine Rivers Seath Holswich said that the bat colony had reached its peak in July this year and that he had received many complaints from residents about the bats.
“People in the area have voiced their concern to myself and the state government, that’s why we have taken the step as a philosophy as a government, to shift powers back to local governments as much as we can,” Mr Holswich said.
“Local governments know their area better than the state government do, better than the departments do and they should be empowered to make decisions in their local area.”
The distance between homes in Strathpine Village and the bat colony.
Red tape aside, it has not been easy for the residents living in Strathpine Village, which backs onto Pine Rivers Park and the bat colony.
Strathpine Village resident Amy Devitt said the constant noise and smell of bat faeces have made life uncomfortable since Christmas 2012 and the prospect of living with the bats for another 12 months is “almost unbearable.”
Amy Devitt standing in her back patio with the bats in the trees behind her.
“I can’t really have friends over to the house because the smell is so bad that we can’t go and sit outside and have a barbeque,” Ms Devitt said.
“I am dreading what it is going to be like in summer, because I won’t be able to open up the house and let the breeze come through as it will bring the smell of the bats with it.”
John Millard the Community manager of Strata Care Australia which manages the body corporate of Strathpine Village said that the company would be championing the cause for residents to move the bats on.
“Living in a community is all about peaceful enjoyment and with the noise, smell and excrement from the bats, it is becoming harder and harder for residents in close proximity to find any enjoyment,” Mr Millard said.
“The major concerns with residents are the health implications that are associated with bats and fears of the resale value of their properties.
“We will be forwarding a petition along with all our correspondence with residents onto council to try and convey how uncomfortable these people are and we have been in talks with council to hopefully come to a somewhat speedy resolution.”
The Moreton Bay Regional Council completed a management program for bats in December 2012, at the time the bat colony in Pine Rivers Park was seen as minimal and was not included in the action plan.
Current bat colonies in the Moreton Region, (image provided with permission from the EHP).
Council are monitoring the situation and plan to take action once the new legislation has been finalised and all parties are aware of their responsibilities.
The complicated issue of the new legislation about who is responsible, who should take action and what protocols should be followed will continue to play out in parliament.
The time frame has not been set for the new application of this legislation, leaving the residents of Strathpine Village to continue to feel like prisoners in their own homes, with the bats as the guards and the government as the warden.